I enjoy irony when it’s in the context of literature.

When it’s in the context of a Bible teacher who seems to be completely oblivious about the contradictions of his statements, it makes me feel like I need to practice my breathing techniques.

Apparently, according to professor John Street, head of counseling at John MacArthur’s Masters College and Seminary, counselors who do not follow the Jay-Adams style of nouthetic counseling (now labelled “Biblical counseling”) want only to “save the body” of an abused wife. Here is the quote:

We don’t agree [with Minirth-Meier, the “integrationist” counselors] that the primary goal of the counselor in working in an abuse situation is to make personal escape and protection the essential object of their counsel.

In this case there is virtually no difference between the integrationist counselor and the secular counselor. Both have the same goal, saving the body.

John Street, Master's Seminary professor, teaching about how to counsel an abuse victim
John Street, Master’s Seminary professor, teaching how to counsel an abuse victim who is in danger

He then goes on to denigrate this idea of “saving the body,” as if the body is somehow disconnected from the soul and spirit. As if that’s all counselors want to do. (I have never heard of such.)

He says that if that were to be our goal, then all missionaries in dangerous countries should get pulled out, and we should do everything we can to help national Christians in hostile countries escape.

Hmmm . . .

Missionaries and national Christians have been doing that very thing throughout the decades and centuries. Many times mission boards have told their missionaries to evacuate a country when it became too dangerous, in hopes that they could return when the volatile situation settled down.

And of course Christians in hostile countries have hidden and even escaped their countries in order to stay alive (“saving their bodies”). Through the decades and centuries this has been taking place–the stories of miraculous hiding and miraculous escapes abound.

Yes, there are martyrs, those who give up their lives on the mission field or in their native land because of their testimony of Christ. Yes, that happens, and these people are to be honored for their sacrifice.

But if they have the opportunity to escape, are we saying that they should not? That goes against both history (so many examples!) and the Bible.

And here is where the irony comes in.

John Street goes on to quote the psalmist David, who said in Psalm 119:71 for example, “It is good for me that I was afflicted that I may learn your statutes.”

What affliction could David possibly have been talking about here?

Oh yes, the maniacal king, King Saul, was chasing him to kill him for no good reason, and David was escaping. He was running and hiding, mostly in caves, in order to “save his body.” (I would observe that he was saving the rest of him too.)

Trying to keep oneself safe from a maniacal abuser can be a terrifying experience. It sure would be nice to have help with it. David trusted God to preserve him (since God had already promised he would be king), but he also had help from others, including, ironically, even Saul’s own son, Jonathan.

But in the modern-day Jay-Adams-style “Biblical counseling” world, a Christian woman and her children would not have any help to escape and stay safe, because that would only be “saving the body.”

I often wonder about the hard-heartedness of these counselors. If John Street himself were locked in a house with a dangerous person, would he figure he should stay there because he wants “to be God’s kind of person even in the midst of [his] trial”? Would he believe that no one should help him escape because that would be the worldly, secular approach of simply saving his body?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do think that if these counselors were in such a situation, if their hearts aren’t hardened beyond hope, the empathy that experience would develop would help them become people of greater compassion.

In the meantime, I pray that there will be many Christians of greater compassion who will be willing to help the women and children whose lives are in danger, and then be able to tell them—as Christian nationals who escape their hostile countries have crystal clear in their thinking:

I have good news for you. The real God is not like that.

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